In early 2018, division Wood Products joined the Combient Foundry program in order to find digital solutions for moisture management. Combient Foundry is a Venture Client Alliance of 30 industry-leading Nordic companies that partners with start-ups to transform tomorrow’s industries. For Wood Products, moisture management was a key area for digitalisation as keeping track of moisture content is crucial for constructing buildings with a long lifecycle.
Jyripekka Hiltunen, Digital Scout for Wood Products, explains: “We see an increasing interest in wooden construction in many markets. At the same time, the need for understanding the behaviour and measuring the characteristics of wooden elements increases. We need to understand the moisture of the material thoroughly to ensure high quality results. Ideally, we could follow up the moisture content inside of wood through the whole supply chain – and this is exactly the problem we wanted to solve.”
In the Combient Foundry round in 2018, Finnish sensor technology company Wiiste was chosen as the start-up partner for continued development. “We were convinced by their know-how in sensor technology and understanding of the problem setting. The solution was not readily available but when combining our wood technology - and Wiiste sensor technology expertise, all pieces were in place to solve the puzzle,” Jyripekka Hiltunen recalls.
Toni Luopajärvi, Managing Director and Co-founder at Wiiste Oy, explains why moisture management is crucial for extending a building’s lifecycle: “With real time monitoring, especially during the construction phase, moisture problems can be spotted early, and costly repairs can be avoided. Transparent and reliable moisture data is crucial in finding weaknesses in process and makes it possible to effectively develop the dry chain for healthier buildings.”
“Our solution for moisture measurement for wooden elements is based on very commonly used ‘pin measurement’ technology, like in the devices used at the sawmill kilns to measure moisture on sawn goods. We just further developed it and made it to work online,” Jyripekka Hiltunen adds.
After an intensive test and development process throughout 2019, the digital wood moisture meters are now being tested at the Finnish-Russian school construction site in Helsinki. “The first results are promising, and the user feedback has been encouraging. We can be the first company in wooden construction business providing moisture sensoring through the whole supply chain and construction process on the site. This solution can provide a digital assurance to our customers and other stakeholders that the building is in a good condition and healthy to live inside,” Jyripekka Hiltunen explains.
Toni Luopajärvi, Managing Director and Co-founder at Wiiste Oy, says that combining Wiiste and Stora Enso’s knowledge and experience facilitated a fast and dynamic development process: “We had a good basis for this kind of solution development and Stora Enso had a well cleared out problem to be solved. The development process was agile and fast-paced. We were able to test the prototypes on actual construction sites during the development, which gave us valuable information about the measuring environment and usability.”
The first version of Wiiste sensors is suitable for moisture measurement in construction phase and building life cycle phases considering the five years battery operating life. Interest in moisture measurement and follow-up doesn’t end with construction but continues throughout the building’s lifecycle. “Currently, this is an area we are looking for new digital solutions that can be commercialized and offered to our customers. These new services will then further strengthen our offering and make wooden construction more efficient and safer,” concludes Pilvi Seppälä, Digital Product Manager for Stora Enso Building Solutions.